Something Alternative: How Sex Work changed my life

I’m a Sex Worker. I’ve been working in the adult industry for about five years and it’s completely changed my life, for the better. It’s given me more confidence, improved my mental well-being, opened up new possibilities of varying kinds and introduced me to people I would never have met otherwise.

I’ve found it on the whole to be a very human and worthwhile job. Whilst I am lucky to have open-minded and liberal friends, I am aware that there are still those who don’t quite understand or agree with my work.

At a recent event, supposedly a place where one would expect to meet open minded individuals dancing in their fishnets and having casual rendezvous with people, I was met with a kind of sneering disapproval when I answered that ever so commonly asked “what do you do?” question with the truth.

These days I’m a lot more open with people I don’t already know and I find it helps weed out the people I’d actually like to spend time with. However, I realise that even in 2019, Sex Work is unfortunately still stigmatised, it’s still criminalised and people make broad judgments despite it being such a huge and varied industry.

Although there are certainly problems within the industry and there are those who are survival sex workers struggling in this job, there are those like me who are happy and safe. As in other jobs, there is no a homogenous experience. The media however, seems to have a tendency to represent sex work in extremes: either harrowingly depressing or ridiculously glamorous. This is a personal account of my experience.

I first started my career in sex work as an escort. I currently work as a pro-dominatrix and pro-submissive, and I have done porn and webcamming, but escorting was my first foray into this world. Post university I was sick of retail jobs which wreaked havoc upon my mental health and life in general, I decided, after overhearing a conversation about a mutual friend who was an escort, that I would try being one.

I considered myself sexually liberated anyway, had enjoyed numerous one night stands and definitely had a keen interest in all things sexual, so I thought – why indeed not? This was before I knew any other sex workers or knew much at all about this secretive world, so my decision to give this line of work a go also had a kind of rebellious streak to it – a kind of “fuck it” attitude against the so-called status quo where I decided that I would do something daring and deliberately subversive.

I googled escort agencies and soon found myself on my way for an interview. As I was on my way, despite my brazen determination and little thrills of excitement, I remember having thoughts such as “what the hell am I doing?” entering my head. That or, “you got firsts in your essays at uni and you’re going to work as a whore, what the fuck are you doing?”. Clearly, despite my frequent and adventurous sexual escapades, I had still absorbed some of society’s hatred for Sex Workers and this notion that being intelligent or happy and selling sex are mutually exclusive. I didn’t pay much heed to these voices luckily and, post interview, I was on my way to becoming an escort.

The time working for that escort agency was varied and very much a mixed bag of experiences but it’s a period of time that made it clear to me that I was one hundred per cent comfortable selling sex and, most importantly, that providing companionship was an essential component of the job. Case in point; my very first client. I remember being so nervous and unsure of how to proceed in this strange new situation that I immediately threw off all of my clothes and sat on the edge of the bed in my underwear whilst the client sat fully clothed and started talk to me about his avid interest in Art History. It turns out he was very much after a chat more than anything, the sex lasted about five minutes and afterwards the talking resumed. I remember thinking, “Why on earth did this guy just pay all that money for an hour of sex when it barely lasted a few minutes?”. And it was then that I realised he wanted the company of a human being – yes one that he found physically attractive, and could be intimate with – but the sexual element was almost an afterthought.

After this first booking I felt confident that I would enjoy this job. Talking to people, offering company and making someone feel valued and listened to – this was something I could not only do but felt was incredibly worthwhile. In my time doing escort work I have seen people who have confessed their fears to me, asked my advice on personal matters, people who have thanked me for building their confidence, a man who was going on eighty who just had never experimented much in the bedroom, clients with disabilities…I have met strangers with whom I have shared deeply intimate and emotional moments with, and these are special to me. I have made friends with clients, visited a railway museum with one, sat eating ice cream and laughing with clients, and even met a client’s mum. To me they are not just clients, they are human beings. And even with money changing hands, these experiences are still real.

With this in mind, I find the common misconceptions and language surrounding Sex Work confusing and damaging. Especially the notion that escorts are “selling themselves”. The last time I checked, if someone buys a product they get to keep it. My clients don’t get to keep me, or own me in any sense (well, unless they want to download one of my films, or we are doing a BDSM roleplay and for the duration of the booking I am “theirs”). My clients pay for my time, and whilst I use my body to perform sexual services, the exchange of labour and money is really no different than in other jobs. I work for an hour, I get paid a certain rate. I guess there is that notion for some that sex is sacred, or special and can only be enjoyed by two people in love. Or that sex can only be enjoyed, if it’s free. I have met people who are perfectly fine with casual sex, yet not ok with Sex Work. And this is the problem. People are guilty of projecting their own perceptions of sex and sexual preferences onto Sex Work. But the beautiful thing is that sex doesn’t have to be any one thing.

I would argue that, so long as it is consensual, I have the right to do what I want with my body, and I suspect this is what a great majority of the global population feels too. I personally would also say that, whilst a job defined by and associated with sex, this is also a job about human connection and what is more beautiful and worth paying for than that?

Words: Rosie K